BAT looks to double its vaping markets

Feb 23 (Reuters) - British American Tobacco wants to double the number of countries where it sells vaping products this year and again in 2018, it said on Thursday, as it chases rivals Philip Morris International to grab a share of a growing market.

BAT and Philip Morris were the first of the big tobacco firms to invest in cigarette alternatives a few year back, as growing health consciousness reduces traditional smoking.

Earlier this year, BAT agreed to buy U.S. peer Reynolds American for $49.4 billion, a deal that will help boost its position in the small but growing market for e-cigarettes and other cigarette alternatives.

However, analysts say BAT is scrambling to catch up with Philip Morris in the heated products 'vaping' market, where the U.S. firm has established a stronghold with its IQOS device, the result of a decade of research and $3 billion of investment.

IQOS, which electronically heats tobacco enough to produce a vapour without burning it, is currently in 20 markets, including most notably Japan, and will be in as many as 30 by the end of this year, Philip Morris said on Wednesday.
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